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Cities Nationwide Demonstrate In Turkey , Clash In Ankara

By Countercurrents.org

10 June, 2013

AA Photo

The rally at Taksim, AA Photo

Turkish cities nationwide continued to demonstrate in support of the ongoing protests, and Istanbul 's Taksim Square remains the heart of the movement as thousands of people gathered in a massive rally on June 9, 2013 despite Ankara clashes that had occurred in the morning hours. People filled squares and parks in cities including Izmir and Ankara .

Protesters designed signs and slogans before the Taksim rally started. The rally, organized by the Taksim Solidarity Platform representing the protesters in Gezi Park , was a response to the failed attempts at resolving the issue through meetings with government officials including deputy prime minister Arinç.

The platform said their demands had not been met, which prompted the continuation of the protests “that are set to last until all the demands are met.”

At the park, Republican People's Party (CHP) youth branch members planted a tree honoring Abdullah Cömert, 22, who was killed during clashes in Antakya .

In Ankara, thousands of protesting people gathered at Kugulu Park, rebuilt tents that had been removed a day before after negotiations with police forces. The people then moved toward the Kizilay Square at the city center on June 9, 2013 , where police forces called on protesters to disperse.

When the people refused to disperse, police attacked them with a barrage of tear gas and water cannons at around 10:30 p.m. Photos of the clashes quickly made it online, and reports of injuries also surfaced. The protests continued until late in the night. It was the second night in a row riot police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the demonstrators in the centre of Ankara on June 9, 2013 .

Police also used tear gas to quell protesters who gathered on Tunus Avenue , at the midpoint between Kizilay Square and Kugulu Park , the two bases of demonstrations across the city. Four people, including an Iranian citizen, have been taken into custody. 

Following the police crackdown, the thousands gathered in Gezi Park chanted slogans such as "Resist Ankara, Taksim is with you."

In a statement on Sunday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged the need for restraint on all sides.

Meanwhile, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) announced two counter-demonstrations set to take place in Ankara and Istanbul on June 15 and 16.

A polarized Turkey

Mark Lowen of BBC News reported from Istanbul :

In Taksim Square there has been one of the largest demonstrations since this unrest began.

Mark's observation included: Turkey is becoming ever more polarized. The divisions here are deepening, which could lead Turkey into paralysis and dangerous waters.

He reported: The prime minister has lost control of the centre of Istanbul .

Erdogan's warning and clash-path

Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan has warned his patience "has a limit" as anti-government protests continued. Erdogan dismissed the protesters as "looters", in a defiant address to supporters in the capital Ankara .

Erdogan said addressing cheering supporters as he arrived at Ankara airport: "We remained patient, we are still patient but there's a limit to our patience."

Stale bread, 6 policemen commit suicide during protests

Six Turkish policemen have committed suicide since the Gezi Park protests started, according the police union head Faruk Sezer.

Police forces have been targeted by heavy criticism over their excessive use of force and practices of brutality amid clashes, but Sezer claimed the forces too have been suffering extensively by being forced to work under severe conditions.

Policemen who have been drafted in from other cities have been sleeping on benches, shields or cardboard due to a lack of accommodation provided to them by state authorities, Sezer added.

“The violence you see at the end is the reflection of the violence suffered by the policemen. They are not just subjected to violence by protesters, but by 120-hour consecutive working periods, stale bread and food. The police are already subjected to violence within the establishment,” Sezer said.

Sezer said any disrespect toward policemen, chiefs and police force systems would naturally end when citizens see the policemen sleeping on the floor or on their shields.

“We burn inside when we see those pictures [of police sleeping in difficult conditions]. As a union, the first thing we will do once the Gezi protests end is to take those photos and the rest of the evidence to file a criminal complaint with the prosecutor. I tell you, to put the policemen in those conditions is the same as treason to the country,” Sezer said.

Erdogan repeats rumors

Erdogan during his speech at the Ankara airport accused protesters of entering the Dolmabahçe Mosque with shoes on and beer bottles in their hands during a fierce police crackdown last weekend, as reported especially on social media after protesters had taken refuge at the mosque.

But the propagated reports were already denied by the mosque's muezzin and imam.

The incident had happened the night of June 1 and June 2 as the police were organizing a fierce crackdown on protesters demonstrating near the Prime Minister's Working Office at Dolmabahçe, on the European side of Istanbul a few hundred meters from Taksim Square .

Medics were allowed at the historical Bezm-i Alem Valide Sultan Mosque, itself only a hundred meters from the office, and it was converted into a first aid center where protesters running from the police crackdown took shelter.

Following the episode, rumors spread on social media that some of them entered the mosque with their shoes on, a sign of disrespect, or even drank beer. A video even appeared showing what appeared to be a beer can among medical supplies used to treat the injured.

However both the imam and the muezzin of the mosque denied the claims. "No alcohol was taken here. If the protesters would have seen people drinking after they took refuge here, they would have kicked them out themselves," Fuat Yildirim, the muezzin, said. The imam told daily Radikal without disclosing his name that he had tried to mediate between the protesters and the police. "A group that was chased by the police entered forcefully into the mosque. We tried to prevent it, to shut the doors but we did not succeed. The injured were treated for two days. Those who took shelter were running away from police tear gas," he said.

Süleyman Gündüz, columnist for conservative daily Yeni Safak, also wrote in an article that the claims were unfounded, denouncing the irresponsibility of those who spread them on social media.

"The first day, as they found time, protesters entered after taking their shoes off. Whereas the second day, the dose of violence had risen, so the protesters entered the mosque desperately, without taking off their shoes, breaking the key to the door," he wrote, adding that the muezzin did everything to calm them down.

He added that the one beer can in the video had been left as the protesters exited the mosque through the window. "The muezzin did not see one person drinking beer," he wrote, adding that no one knew how the beer could have gotten there.

Botanic Park 's seizure by Mufti's Office

Sevim Songün Demirezen writes:

Istanbul University 's Botanic Garden will be allocated to the Istanbul Mufti's [an Islamic authority] Office, said the university's rector. This has raised worries among academics.

It has been told that this garden belonged to the office of the Shaykh al-Islam, the top Islamic authority in Ottoman times. But it has been used by the university as a botanical garden for the past 60 years.

A number of students, academics and activists gathered at a panel in Istanbul to discuss the significance of the garden for science and to voice their demands that the garden be maintained.

Istanbul University 's Alfred Heilbronn Botanic Garden was established in 1933, by Alfred Heilbronn and Leo Brauner, two Jew professors who escaped Nazi Germany for Turkey .

The botanical garden houses around 3,000 different plant species and 1,000 different tree species that function as a record of all the species found in Anatolia . The Turkey 's Biologists Association's Istanbul bureau head, Ilbay Kahraman, warned that the uprooting would cause great damage to the school and garden. Kahraman said he was worried that the property might be privatized and allocated for a hotel, residence or mall project, noting that the location was whetting private firms' appetite due its beautiful view of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. “The botanical gardens help us determine biological changes. This garden has been collecting different species since 1933 – this makes it more precious,” he said.

Source: Hürriyet Daily News, Anatolia news agency






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